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Do you work in Imperial or Metric?

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Jim Dobson

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#1
Do you work in Imperial or Metric?

Being an Aussie and 52 years of age I was mid school when Australia started the change over from Imperial to Metric (something that even to this day 40 years later isn't even completely instituted). Here we were one day at school learning Imperial and the next we were told to scratch that and start learning Metric. Something that even our teaches struggled with. So a lot of us around my age have always been in a bit of a twilight zone when it comes to both systems. Older people can easily work in Imperial and younger people can easily work in metric because its what they were solely taught.

Ok, after saying all the above I do find working in metric a whole lot easier, but I still work a lot in imperial as well.

I still to this day wish that I'd been taught just the one method.

What's your preference and what were you taught?
 

randyjaco

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#2
I use both, but being in the US, I am pretty much forced to use Imperial. I wish we would wise up and go all Metric. {But it will never happen 8^( }

Randy
 

Rbeckett

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#3
I actually still use both too. Some stuff is easier in Imperial and some is easier in metric. So I just switch as needed.

Bob
 

John Hasler

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#4
I use mostly USA customary (which is not quite the same as British Imperial) because my tools and machines, being about as old as I am, are all customary. However I am quite comfortable with metric and if I could afford all new stuff might go that way. Metric stuff is not at all hard to come by here, though the selection of metric hardware in the village hardware store is limited.
 

1935ron

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#5
Prefer imp but work i metric only when i have absolutely no choice
 

Pat of TN

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Inch. Even at where I work, we work in inches - because our machines are inches, our tools are in inches. The majority of our work comes in, in metric; but you know how easy it is to convert metric to inch? Divide by 25.4. If our CAD guy hasn't already made a company print changed to inch, it's simple enough to scribble the converted dimensions and tolerances onto the print.

But I suppose, the only reason we can do that is because it is a small company, a little over a dozen shop employees in the machine shop. A big plant could perhaps have problems converting hundreds, or thousands, of prints and dimensions...

On the other hand, other shops in the area have gone metric, particularly because they deal a lot with international business, which is nigh-exclusively metric.

Oh, but as far as a hobbyist view, yes, inch. My 1950s-vintage lathe will not cut a metric dimension, I have to measure it in inches. Otherwise it will not come out right... I couldn't tell it, we are cutting to 12.7 millimeters, it would just shut down on principle... "WHAT IS THIS FOREIGN CRAP" it would exclaim! But if I say, Mr. Lathe, we are turning to 500 thou, it becomes happy and works magic.

Something to keep in mind, a piece has a dimension in either system. If it is a 16mm bushing and you measure it with an inch mic and inch telescoping gauges (facetious indeed), it will press whether the hole is 15.98 mm or .628 thou.
 

darkzero

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#7
Being in the US, I also use US Customary. Although I have a DRO & plenty of digital measuring tools that can switch to metric, I still prefer to work with US Customary. And when I do have to machine to metric specifications, I always convert to inch to do my work. That's how I learned & that's what I'm used to. When someone says a few thou or a couple of hundred thou, I can get a visual of how much that is. But when it comes to metric I'm lost.

When it comes to bolt heads & metric threads, I do have a good idea of what size the bolt head is or the thread diameter. I used to work in automotive repair/performance (mostly on imports) so that's where that came from. However when I machine parts that use fasteners, I always prefer to use metric fasteners.
 

JimDawson

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#8
I work in Imperial (US Customary) for machine work because that's what my equipment and measuring tools are calibrated in. If I have metric drawings to work from, I convert to Imperial for measurements. But I do a lot of engineering in Metric because it is easier to do mass and motion calculations SI units.
 

12bolts

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#9
Some of my measuring tools are metric, some are imperial. I just use whatever is at hand. I can easily convert roughly in my head, or switch between the 2 without problems. Use a metric inch conversion chart on the wall for quick referencing.
Im 51 Jim, so in the same schooled era as you.

cheers Phil
 

savarin

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#10
I use both often in the same project but I prefer to use metric, its easier to me even though I only ever used imperial until middle aged.
 

Jim Dobson

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#11
Interesting reading the replies and thanks for posting them.

I like fractions such as 1/8th, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 etc but must admit to a major struggle when it comes to 9/128, 11/128, 7/64th, 11/32 etc etc

I'd be lost without my digital calipers that at the push of a button convert a measurement from fractions, to metric or inches.
 
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Andre

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#12
A unit is a unit, I don't care if America switches to the metric system, it's just a size measurement unit.

Although I usually work in imperial, I have the capability to work in metric if needed.
 

Cami

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#13
I used both at different jobs...SI being used when paired up with immigrant coworkers; English welder; German machinist.

I often work for an English production engineer and we use inches when dealing with our product but any fixtures he designs are in SI.

Work I do for myself is all in inches. All the trades I've dealt with use inches. We're a metric country but there's this 363KG...er.. 800lb gorilla next door who doesn't want to change. :p
 

Ebel440

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I use imperial as that's what everything is here but I do make parts that are metric simply convert the mm to inches. I am actually getting pretty good at just knowing the rough sizes mentally. I didn't explain that well but I can see 100mm and think 4 inches which isn't exact but close.
 

chuckorlando

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#15
I dont think it makes a hill of beans which you use if the tools read it. Now fractions suck and I really cant stand them my self. But dealing with decimals is just as easy in either. 1 is always smaller then 2 in any of them.

Now if you dont have the proper tools to read mm(I dont) you just do as Pat mentioned and convert each number before you start working. In theory the drawing should come with both on it if it may go to a shop that uses the other. If it's drawn in England to be sent to a US firm it should have both and the other way. IN THEORY
 

zmotorsports

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#16
At work I pretty much use solely imperial. At my home shop I use both. Imperial being my standard but many of the motorcycles and autos I work on are metric so I am well versed in both. As far as hand tools, I pretty much have complete sets of both as automotive is mostly metric nowadays but in the 80's-early 90's even they were a mixed bag. Engine and engine related components being imperial whereas body and chassis fasteners were all switching over to metric.
 

projectnut

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#17
Like many others I use both. I have both metric and imperial measuring tools, drills, fixtures, reamers, taps & dies, etc., etc.. Most of my stock is in imperial measurements, but since it's cut and shaped to size it really doesn't matter. I was lucky enough to purchase a Bridgeport with both metric and Imperial dials. Later when I added a DRO it got even easier to think and act in both worlds. I still prefer the Imperial measurements since those were the ones I grew up with. Now that most things are manufactured for "world wide use" metric has become much more popular.

None of the saws, mills, lathes, drill presses or other equipment seem to care which tooling or measurements are used. Most of my work is repairing older industrial machinery. Consequently I still do quite a bit of work in imperial measurements.
 

cvm19

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#18
I have inch-based machines but sometimes work from metric plans. Three tools are critical to me: a calculator (e.g., a specialized conversion calculator for iOS), a pencil (for reasons already mentioned), and my Starrett 799A digital caliper. Even though I'm more physically comfortable with a dial caliper, the electronic one lets me switch from inch to metric or back with one button touch. It's a thing of beauty, ...makes work easy.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

hvontres

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#19
+1 for using both. Most of my measuring tools including my tape measures are "bilingual". At work, I design equipement in metric and prefer that over inches, but sometimes the old "empeiral" units work better... I find, that when I am laying out projects in the yard I use feet and inches. But I have actually found that when trying to cut lumber to exact sizes, I actually prefer the metric side of the tape measure. There are numbers every 5mm (~3/16"), so it is a lot harder to get lost in the fractional makings. Plus, I really like decimal measurements much better. I also tend to use mostly metric fasterners. First off, whenever we need to clean off the benches at work, I wind up with another grab bag of mixed fasternes :) Also, since I work with them every day I have gotten used to picking metric sizes for a given job. I also think that the metric "medium" pitches are alot easier to deal with than having to figure out if I want to use a UNC or a UNF for a given task.

Just my $.02
 

MarioM

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I use both. Being in South America, must of the technology came from USA, but at present it is mixed up. We study both at school. When I need to visualize something in my mind I better do it in metric, but I am so used to use imperial in some things that still use it, like depth units for diving, imperial..... surfboards sizes, imperial......tire pressure, imperial......person height, metric......distance, metric......and so on....completely crazy!!!!.

At the shop all my machines are imperial, so working with thousands of an inch no problem, but struggle using fractions and use a chart. It is something like not knowing which hand to use, left or right.
 
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cvairwerks

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#21
I've used both over the years, but the majority of my work is inch and Mil Spec, so much easier for me. Easier to work to a .003" tolerance rather than a .0762 mm.
 

David Kirtley

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#22
I am equally comfortable in either but preference doesn't usually come into the choice. The project usually dictates which I will use. If I am doing something that uses bearings, I usually will use 608 bearings because they are dirt cheap. I order them by the box of 100. Same with M8 x 1.25 screws. They fit the bearings. Stock comes in Imperial dimensions. Tooling and fasteners are easier to find in Imperial sizes. Machining information such as Machinery Handbook have an Imperial bias for the tables.

What I don't like are conversions. Not because I can't do them but because they are a huge source of error potential. If I am working in metric, I want metric scales and such. Thankfully, with modern digital indicators and calipers, it is a non issue.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#23
i was raised imperial, learned metric in grade school but didn't use it until i started working for a living.
i use both systems now and have measuring tools and tooling in both Imperial and Metric.
i prefer the metric system it's easier for me to do computations quickly.
when using imperial, i find myself always wanting to turn every fraction into a decimal so i can gauge it's size.
for example 47/64", i know it's larger than 1/2" but i have to crunch numbers to find out that it's smaller than 3/4"
whereas in metric you'll have 10 mm, 12 mm, 16.5mm etc., pretty easy to do the math when working metric...
converting back and forth usually for me is relegated to charts and memory
 
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hermetic

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#24
Imperial for everything, except on my Harrison H mill, which is metric, A fact which I didn't notice when buying it, because the price ws so right \i didn't care!!
Phil
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orjo

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#25
Here in Belgium we only use Metric.
But I know how to convert to Imperial if I have to.
 

Round in circles

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#26
I've had to smile about the guys who hate fractions & prefer metric .. pray tell me what is metric but fractions & multiples of 10's 100's and 1000's

I live working in different mathematical measurement bases other than in tens or multiples it keeps my mind active , it allows me to see patterns & values that I suspect I would miss if I was only schooled in the metric system .

My daughter is nearly 13 , she was amazed earlier this year when I showed her how to multiply , divide , add & subtract fractions and explained that a fraction really showed that the top set of numbers was just a part of a whole one that's been divided up into the bottom set of numbers . Her teachers are shy of anything that's not metric which shows just how dumbed down modern schooling is here in the UK .
Munchkin wants to become a veterinary surgeon so it's important to get a handle on maths early in the game and learn to enjoy the mind games you play when doing them.

Years ago in the British Army I played with all manner of explosives handling equipment most of which that was pre 1930's German machinery , a heck of a lot of it was Withworth / imperial and made in Germany .

I was always taught that the non metric stuff was designed to take the load that the quality of steel of the day could handle where as metric thread was frequently mis-engineered too high so as to use metrically dimensioned metal . Though these days with our knowledge of steel making etc. it's becoming the norm to have the steel formulae developed /manufactured to the load that the thread is going to have placed upon for all manner of threaded rod /nuts it no matter what thread form is used.
 

pdentrem

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#27
I was schooled in INCH (Imperial) first. In 1977, we had the switch to Metric.

At work I have to use inch, metric, microns etc. Our manual machines are inch. The modern EDMs, milling center and other CNC machines don't care. As long that you toggle the correct switch or setting!

At home I use inch.
Pierre
 

atwatterkent

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#28
Inches forever. I'm 68 and set in my ways. When someone brings me a print of a part they need machined with metric dimensions, I tell them to come back when they FIX the print.
I bought a Hardinge TM horiz mill a few years ago. It has metric feed screws. I would have brought it back to the guy but it was 300 miles away. I promptly put a DRO on it to solve the PROBLEM
 

Cami

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pdentrem: Toggling the correct switch setting indeed! It can be a hazard: All my torque specs at work are in Newton metres and I use an elecronic torque wrench. Somebody borrowed it and switched it over to foot pounds and returned it without my knowing. That first nut seemed to put up quite a fight....then, "DAMN!"
 
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